Sinclair Named Butkus Award Candidate

<p>University of Illinois linebacker Matt Sinclair was named to the 2004 Butkus Award Watch List, which is annually given to the nation's best collegiate linebacker.

The Award, named after former Illinois great Dick Butkus, will be trimmed to 10 semi-finalists on Oct. 14 and that list will be cut down to three finalists on Nov. 11. Sinclair is one of eight Big Ten defenders listed. Sinclair was an honorable mention All-Big Ten selection in 2003 after leading the Illini in total tackles with 129. He moved to outside linebacker this past spring after starting 12 games in the middle last season. Sinclair is a preseason all-conference pick, after leading the Big Ten in tackles during conference play.

The Illini won back-to-back Butkus Awards when Dana Howard took home the trophy in 1994 and Kevin Hardy won in 1995. The Illini completed its final double session of the 2004 training camp on Monday afternoon. After its second practice of the day, the veterans were treated to a trip to the Rantoul Water Park, while the rookies welcomed over 8,000 incoming U of I students at the annual Illini First Nite orientation at Memorial Stadium. The Illini will finish Camp Rantoul with a final morning workout Tuesday at 8:40 a.m. Post-Practice Quotes from Head Coach Ron Turner On today's practice:

I liked what I saw. This typically has not been a good practice, following the Saturday night scrimmage in Rantoul. Today, after the off-day yesterday and with it being one of the warmest days we've had, the energy and attitude was good. We have a lot of things we have to work on; we're not where we need to be. I've looked back in my notes and this has always been a frustrating day. We've gone pads, we've gone shoulder pads and shorts, we try and find a way to make it a good practice and now I know what it is; it's attitude and focus. These guys are an extremely focused team with a great attitude and wanting to get better, and we had a pretty good practice.

On the backup quarterback situation:

I thought both Brad (Bower) and Chris (Pazan) did some really good things. I thought with Brad running the ball – he's got to stick with his reads a little bit more, which comes with reps - but I thought he did some pretty good things. I thought Chris did a good job of managing the game. He has a good feel for the offense. Tim (Brasic) was somewhere in between. He has a decent feel for the offense - not where it needs to be – he's a decent athlete and right now he's somewhere in between them.

On the offensive backfield: I believe we have quality and quantity there. We have some good depth. We have three guys at the halfback position who can play, and we have three fullbacks who we've been very pleased with. So we're doing great and Walter Mendenhall is young, but the little bit he¹s done, he¹s really impressed us. We've got some very good players back there.

On defensive tackle Chris Norwell:

We thought he would be a great player on offense, first as a tight end, but he out grew that. Then Harry (Hiestand) worked with him at left tackle, just saw his movement and everything, and thought he could be a special left tackle. But we have to do what's best for the team and he's going to be a very good defensive lineman where he'll help the team even more.

On the play of defensive end Josh Norris in Saturday's scrimmage: He came off the ball really well; played with a lot of intensity. He's got a great motor, but that's nothing different from him. He's caught our attention, he's working with the 2s right now, behind Mike OBrien, and he's going to play a lot of football for us.

Story courtesy of U of I SID office

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